LJN's Wrestling Superstars action figures are generally considered the first series of wrestling toys to be marketed to the mainstream internationally. And I'm lucky to have collected them all back in the 1980s! Each month, I'll look at one classic figure and explain what made them so special.
THE BRITISH BULLDOGS
Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid
May is Tag Team Appreciation Month in Canadian Bulldog's World, with nearly 100 unique stories on the art of tag team wrestling. So it only made sense that the induction committee behind the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame put a tag team in the spotlight this month.
When it comes to tag teams from the LJN era, it's arguable that there were few more popular than The British Bulldogs (no relation), a pair of figures that were released in the third series of LJN's WWF Wrestling Superstars in 1986, sold both as a two-pack and individually as Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid.
The British Bulldogs were a pair of no-nonsense action figures, smaller than many of their competitors but jacked to the gills. Both Bulldogs wore red trunks with "Bulldogs" on the side, as well as black kneepads, red and black boots and matching white wrist tape. They were also posed to raise each other's arms, even while manager Captain Lou Albano was standing in the way.
While The Bulldogs were my favorite tag team as a kid and the inspiration for my pen name (thank goodness I never wrote under the nom de plume of, like, Canadian The Dumpster Droese!), Davey Boy Smith was the standout to me. His figure was perfectly posed to deliver his patented running powerslam to fellow CBWLJNWFHOF'er Brutus Beefcake. That move was Davey Boy's calling card, not only as a tag team guy, but even later in his career as a singles star.
Even though Dynamite Kid was posed in a very similar way to his cousin, the running powerslam was never his bag. Clearly the more gifted technical wrestler of the two (although I didn't realize that at the time), Dynamite was more adept at dropping diving headbutts on his foes -- ironically one of the moves that would lead to concussion trauma in Tom Billington's post-wrestling life.
Any fan of my era will tell you that the matches between The British Bulldogs and their real-life brothers-in-law Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart (The Hart Foundation) were the shit back in the day, often spoken in the same hushed tones as 1990s kids talk about The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian. Each of their matches was brilliant, and easily replicable within the confines of the LJN Universe.
Of course, within that same LJN Universe, nerds like me could create their own alternate storylines. For example, what would have happened if, instead of leaving the WWF in 1988 and going to Japan, Davey Boy and Dynamite decided to stick around and challenge Tito Santana and Rick Martel (Strike Force)? The Bulldogs would have definitely been the heels here, according to my completely ficticious scenario.
The poster that came rolled up in the bottom of the LJN package of either Bulldog or the team combined was the exact same picture - Davey Boy and Dynamite Kid posing mid-ring before their big match "at the Coliseum," which apparently was the Madison Square Garden of LJN house shows, judging by how many times their performers showed up there.
Not only do The Bulldogs look like a million bucks on the poster (and similar enough to their action figures, particularly for that era), but they're also holding the super-rare LJN WWF Tag Team Championship belt. These brown-and-silver babies were packaged only in tag teams (which, I suppose, makes sense) and are ultra rarities in the LJN universe. I only have one left, and I believe it's broken.
Broken belts aside, we're extremely grateful that The British Bulldogs are now part of the (prestigious) Canadian Bulldog's World LJN Wrestling Figure Hall of Fame.